What’s going on with the whole hashtag thing? Are they just an Instagram thing? Are they OK now on Facebook? What about Twitter and LinkedIn? Where should you be using them and how many hashtags is too many?
Read on to find out where to use hashtags, how many to use on each social media network and how to work out which ones should be included with your post.
Let’s start with the basics.
What is a hashtag?
A hashtag is simply a keyword phrase. It can’t contain any spaces or punctuation. It has a pound or hash sign (#) in front of it.
Examples would be #electricfootprint and #socialmedia
Don’t confuse adding a hashtag to a social media post with tagging. Tagging uses the @ symbol and links to another account, page or person.
Hashtags aren’t owned by anyone. So no permissions are required to use them and nothing stopping you creating your own. But before your start using one that you think relates brilliantly to your business so see what kind of content it’s already being attached to. Consider if the content that appears is going to be useful for you or confusing. This is particularly important for acronyms and single words.
How do you use hashtags in posts?
Hashtags can be added anywhere to a post. You can add them at the start or end. Or insert them in the middle by hashtagging words that appear in your post. However, do not take this as a licence to start flinging hashtags around all over the place. Think about why you’re using them and what you want to achieve.
Why should I use a hashtag?
Using a hashtag will expand the reach of your content. Adding a hashtag takes it beyond those who follow you to anyone interesting in the hashtag you used.
Using hashtags on different social media platforms
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn all allow the use of hashtags. But how to use them best varies and how they function varies between platforms.
Facebook, while it’s been possible to use hashtags on Facebook for some years there really haven’t been many benefits to doing so. However, this has all changed in July 2020 and Facebook now encourages the use of hashtags.
Unlike Instagram, Facebook users can’t follow a hashtag. This means that they will only be able to see content related to a specific hashtag if they search for it.
Start off by adding 3-5 hashtags to a Facebook post to help with organic reach. The search feature is a good way of identifying popular hashtags. As shown below you can discover possible hashtags on Facebook by using the search feature. Type in the first part of a possible hashtag in the search box and see what search suggestions come up.
Experiment by adding more hashtags to your posts. Try increasing the number of hashtags on posts up to 10-15 to see what works best.
Instagram users can follow hashtags as well as accounts. This gives them an opportunity to discover new accounts and makes hashtag use really important on this platform.
As far as the number of hashtags is concerned it’s the more the merrier. You can add up to 30 hashtags to a post. However, you probably won’t need to add that many. Social Media Managers report that the highest reach and engagement is on posts with 11+ hashtags.
Your aim is to appear in the top 9 posts for a hashtag(s) your target audience follows. It’s time to think about what your niche is. The more popular the hashtag the less likely your post is to appear.
It’s time to think about what your niche is. The more popular the hashtag the less likely your post is to appear.
This example shows a search for the hashtag #socialmediaagency. It’s a big hashtag with 510,317 mentions. My post using this hashtag and an image of a red phone box appeared in the top 9 grid. #happy
A hashtags size is about the number of mentions it has and how many times it has been used. When you search for a hashtag on Instagram you can see the number of times it has appeared in posts.This is really useful information as it allows you to choose hashtags that fit with the number of people that will be viewing your posts and give your content the best change of being seen and appearing in a search.
Hashtags can be split into 3 groups on Instagram and it’s important to be mindful of which group you select from based on your follower numbers.
Small hashtags are those with less than 250,000. If you’re targeting a very specific niche then consider going even smaller and looking for hashtags with less than 50k mentions. This will give you a good chance of your content being seen over a few days rather than just a few hours.
Medium hashtags are those with 250,000+ mentions. While it’s a bigger pool to swim in with great content you’ll be in line for targeted interactions using hashtags of this size. If you go up to 500,000+ mentions it’s a very competitive space so the quality of your content becomes even more important. If you have great follower engagement levels then you will see good traction in this area.
Go large (if you’re got the followers)
Large hashtags have over 1 million mentions. Consequently, it will be difficult to get noticed here. You’ll need to either have a spectacular engagement rate or a mega number of followers.
Mix it up
When it comes to choosing which hashtags to use don’t stick to one group. Use a mix of different mention sizes based on the number of followers you have.
Know what works for you
You need to know how effective your hashtags are being and that you’re using the right ones. Use post insights to see how many accounts your post reached. Then use the discovery section to see how effective your hashtags were. How many of your posts were seen by users who weren’t following your account? This is a great way to grow your account following.
In this example, a post was seen by 80% of users who weren’t even following my account! That’s 129 new sets of eyes looking at my content based purely from the hashtags used on the post.
LinkedIn has a variety of places that you can use hashtags. They can be added to the body or foot of a post. They can also be added to the description box for a LinkedIn article It’s one way to categorise and flag up topics. That said It’s worth being really specific with your LinkedIn hashtag. Users can follow a hashtag and you don’t want to appear spammy.
Limit your use of hashtags on LinkedIn. Current recommendations are to use 1-2 and only if they are relevant in the context of your content.
Twitter was the original home of the hashtag. And while there was no limit on the number of hashtags there was the character limit to keep things in check.
Unlike Instagram, users can’t follow a hashtag, only search for them. However, they can view which hashtags are trending.
Hashtag use on Twitter is acceptable for business use, but it needs to be really limited. Stick to 1-2 as more than 2 can lower engagement.
How do you know which hashtags to use?
You’ll need to research hashtags for each platform to decide which ones will help you to meet your goals.
I’ve used the following useful tool and apps for hashtag research:
Use the fruits of your research to create a library of hashtags that you can draw on. You’ll need a different section for each platform. The assign headings that you can list hashtags under such as your location, what you do or your job title, what service or product you offer, key phrases or keywords related to your industry and content types (e.g. tips, motivation, blog).
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